For those in floundering relationships, spending time with loved ones could become the catalyst for separation. For some, the long-awaited family holiday could result in drama, stress and hostility.
Married couples can put too much emphasis on their holidays. Sure, we all want to enjoy our partner's company away from the "daily grind" and modern-day stress, but unfortunately, many couples experience that the modern day distractions have been hiding flaws and unresolved issues in their marriage.
What to do if you're considering breaking up?
1) Take it easy - consider separation before divorce
Many couples decide to separate before filing for divorce. A Separation Agreement can set out the agreed financial arrangements although as you are still married, a Judge will not approve it, so it is not always legally binding. However if drafted correctly, using recent case law guidelines it may be upheld by the court if there is a future dispute.
2) Talk it over with your partner
Mediation will help you both make important decisions, such as what to do about the family home, assets, debts and, of course, the children’s future.
Often less stressful than confronting each other in court, it involves a neutral third party who listens to both parties and draws up what they think is a fair settlement for all.
You can still take legal advice during the procedure and, if you don’t agree with the settlement proposal, you can always go to court.
3) If reconciliation is out of the question - file for divorce
If you decide that reconciliation is not possible and that you want to plunge straight into the divorce process, your lawyer will guide you step by step, advising you along the way to ensure you get the best outcome. Remember, you need to specify which of the five grounds for divorce apply to your marriage and that just not loving each other anymore is not enough in current UK law.
The five grounds for divorce are:
- unreasonable behaviour
- two years of separation, with both parties’ consent
- five years of separation (permission not necessary)
4) Remember the children
For their sake, it’s essential to keep lines of communication open and to reach an agreement that is in their best interests.
Talk to them about what’s happening – avoiding unnecessary details that they don’t need to know – and agree on a childcare rota that suits everyone.
Bear in mind the childcare rota will have to adapt around remaining school holidays and the festive season.
Let the children’s school know that your family circumstances have changed; schools have experience in helping youngsters cope with what’s quite a difficult period in their lives.
5) Do you and your partner live miles apart?
Couples who cannot reach a mutual decision regarding contact arrangements for the children may apply for a Child Arrangements Order. This would help to set out when the children should spend time with each parent, including arrangements for the school holidays and Christmas for example. If there are other more ‘specific’ issues such as which school the children should attend; or which religion the children should follow then you can apply for a “Specific Issue Order” under section eight of the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989).
6) But most importantly - keep talking
Nobody wants gets married with the result of getting divorced. Always try to remain on good terms if you can. Remember that your partner is in the same situation.
It may be difficult to stay on good terms, but it is vital to reduce stress and to make the divorce process as smooth and hassle-free as possible.
We would advise that you save any emails, texts or messages that may be important, such as any last minute changes to childcare plans. These can be used as evidence if a dispute does occur later on in the case.
When it comes to divorce, you're not alone.
Did you know that in England and Wales, 42% of marriages end up in divorce? Our team of compassionate Family Law specialists will treat your case with the utmost care. For more information, call us in confidence on